I am delighted to share my review today for The Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden. This is one for historical fiction readers and is an author who I really enjoy reading. Let me show you what his latest book is about…
Two great empires are about to go to war . . .
The momentous struggle between Athens and Sparta as rival powers and political systems will last for twenty-seven years (431 to 404 BC).
It will end in the fall of a dynasty.
Filled with cunning political scheming and astonishing military prowess, invasions and treacheries, plagues and slaughters, passion and power, Conn Iggulden brings to life one of the most thrilling chapters of the ancient world.
Published by Penguin UK Michael Joseph Purchase Link from Amazon UK – Hardback – Kindle – Audiobook (these links are affilaite)
Well, what a brilliantly addictive read this book was. I have read a few books by this author now and he is an author who I can rely on to give a riveting read that is also very well researched. This is an author who definitely knows his history and is also how to weave that historical fact into a story that is an incredible read.
I do like historical fiction and non-fiction books, although my knowledge is only small. What I did find with The Gates of Athens is that it felt right. This is a story that sees the historical battle between the Persians and the Greeks, it is the one that leads up to and includes the stand of the Spartan King at the pass in an attempt to stop the progress of Xerses into Athens.
The story focuses on key figures of the time in Athens, a city of democracy and that no one man can be above all others. It is a city of culture, wealth and politics. Now, wherever politics are involved there is also a certain amount of political wrangling. Of being seen to support certain figures or making a stand against them. I have to say that I really enjoyed this part of the story as I saw how subtle nudges and comments can lead to something much bigger.
There is also a good amount of other details of how people lived, the wealthy households are run from different cultures of the ancient world. Many of the details are brief but they help to show the differences between the various cultures.
If you like historical fiction that is set in Ancient Greece, that is full of battles, intrigue, politics and is simply a fabulous read then this is a book I would definitely recommend.
Born in London, Conn Iggulden read English at London University and worked as a teacher for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. Married with three children, he lives in Hertfordshire. Since publication of ‘The Gates of Rome’, Conn has written a further thirteen books including the wildly successful ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys’.
I am delighted to be sharing my review for The Island by Ragnar Jonasson. This is book #2 in The Hidden Iceland series. This is available from April 4th.
Autumn of 1987 takes a young couple on a romantic trip in the Westfjords holiday – a trip that gets an unexpected ending and has catastrophic consequences.
Ten years later a small group of friends go for a weekend in an old hunting lodge in Elliðaey. A place completely cut off from the outside world, to reconnect. But one of them isn’t going to make it make alive. And Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is determined to find the truth in the darkness.
I read The Darkness and absolutely loved it, I adored it’s main character, Hulda Hermannsdóttir and as soon as I had finished it I immediately picked up this book. Read this series in order to benefit from the chance to get to know a great female lead character and also for the unusual timeline.
Hulda is called into assist and investigate a death , she draws on her experience and uses her instincts to realise that something is not right.
I will say right from the off that this book didn’t grab me in the same way the first one did, instead this book gradually drew me in. This author excels at atmospheric, eerie landscapes that provides a cold and stark backdrop to a plot that intrigues. The investigation is twisted and led me to think it could be anyone of the other characters that were guilty.
So from a slower start, this book also had a different feel that I can’t really put my finger on. It was one that gradually drew me into the plot, I learnt more about Hulda and got a little more insight into her character. I really enjoy the writing style of this author, he has the ability to create wonderful imagery with his words. The character of Hulda is wonderful in so many ways.
This is a series I would recommend reading in order, but I think it would work well as a stand alone. This is a book that readers of Noir Fiction, Crime, Mystery and Suspense novels would really enjoy. It gets a definitely recommended from me.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amaxing 🙂 xx
I am delighted to be sharing my review today for Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas. My thanks to Michael Joseph Books who accepted my request to review this book via NetGalley.
This is the first time I have read a book by this author so I am delighted that she has published other books so I can read more by her.
Could your dream home beyour worst nightmare?
After what happened in London, Kirsty needs a fresh start with her family. And running a guesthouse in the Welsh mountains sounds idyllic.
But then their first guest arrives. Selena is the last person Kirsty wants to see. It’s 17 years since she tore everything apart.
Why has she chosen now to walk back into Kirsty’s life? Is Selena running from something too? Or is there an even darker reason for her visit?
Because Kirsty knows that once you invite trouble into your home, it can be murder getting rid of it . . .
The synopsis does a good job of laying the bones for this story and it has a nice amount of mysterious and enticing intrigue to it. I don’t know about anyone else, it worked for me.
The author has set this story at a good pace with a family moving to their new home. They have purchased a rundown property in a Welsh village, a chance to make it into a home and also be run as a guest house. Oh, by the way, I am not mentioning what it resides next to…
Even though it has a good pace, there are also quieter moments to the story. These tend to have a sinister feeling and aspects of a creepy sense start to be felt. I would expect this with an old property, but there is more than that. Adding to this feeling is the way the author has used the surrounding hills with their domineering presence to add an extra chill factor.
Old houses have histories and when they are in village communities they also have secrets, whispers and to some extent mistrust, depending on who you listen to …
As this is also a guest house, there are obviously guests, some are welcomed and some are not. It was interesting to see how things had been manipulated among the residents and how… actually I’m not saying anymore because I don’t want to spoil it… But I will say that there were several truths and revelations that raised my eyebrows.
While this is a psychological thriller, it is not a hardcore bloodfest sort. Yes, there is a body but there is something more sinisterly dangerous and also a vulnerability at play. It also deals with a tough condition that I thought had been done in a very well balanced way.
As for working out the culprit, well here the author outfoxed me, I could have listed several characters, in fact, this is what I believe the author has intended, so well played.
I have been very vague for this review, it is one of those books you need to experience for yourself. A story of family hoping for a new start. Secrets and rumours play a part. Mistrust add to the sense of suspense. A book that I really enjoyed from start to finish and it is one I would definitely recommend.
Claire Douglas always wanted to write novels and, after many years of trying to get published, her dream came true when she won the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award in 2013 with THE SISTERS.
Her second and third novels, LOCAL GIRL MISSING and LAST SEEN ALIVE (Penguin), are Sunday Times bestsellers.
I am delighted to be sharing my review today for No Further Questions by Gillian . My thanks to the Publisher Michael Jospeh for accepting my request to review this ebook via NetGalley.
The police say she’s guilty. She insists she’s innocent.
She’s your sister. You loved her. You trusted her. But they say she killed your child.
Who do you believe?
Original, devilishly clever and impossible to forget, this is a thriller with a difference. You won’t be able to tear yourself away from the trial that will determine both sisters’ fates.
The synopsis for No Further Questions is perfect, it has the right amount of tension and intrigue to make me want to pick and read. In fact it did such a good job that not only did I originally request it via NetGalley, but I also bought the ebook from Amazon, then forgetting that I already had it, I also bought a paperback copy from the supermarket when I went shopping 🙂 I am gutted this has been on my TBR for this long as it is a cracking read.
It is a mix of courtroom drama and revisited memories that kept me eagerly turning the pages. To be honest, if work wasn’t essential I would have read this in one sitting.
So where to start? Okay, the sisters, Martha and Becky, both married, both have a child, and both sisters are very different from each other. One of the sisters needs help as she tries to run her business and look after her 8 week old, in steps the other sister and they work out a plan that in theory will fit them both. Being sisters this seems to be the ideal choice.
Now to the parents of the sisters, how the mind boggles with this aspect. Wanting to be supportive of both daughters and yet one is in the dock being accused of murdering the daughter of the other sister… Was the sister guilty, she professes her innocence, was it an accident or murder?
The story is told in thought-provoking daily chapters from the perspective of the sisters and some of the other characters. There are subchapters as well that give details from those involved each day, including those that have been called to give evidence.
It was so easy to get into this story and the further I read the more engrossed I got. I was never sure if the sister was guilty, part of me wanted her to be innocent, but there was also a seed of doubt that hovered in the background. Then further in I started to get this horrible nagging feeling, a “What if” moment. It was a feeling I hoped I was wrong about, but by the end of the story, I was right. Now this really didn’t matter, yes I worked it out, but it was all about the story getting me to that point. Even when the truth was revealed I was still shocked as I was so caught up with the story on such an emotional level, I really did not want to be right.
This is a wonderfully gripping story that explored many emotions and dilemmas for the main characters. A story of a family that are dealing with a tragic loss and could be potentially ripped even further apart. This is a tense, powerful, heartbreaking and thought-provoking read that I would definitely recommend.
Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of Everything But The Truth, Anything You Do Say, and No Further Questions. They are all standalone and can be read in any order. She is published in ten countries around the world. The Good Sister is her US debut, coming June 2019 from Penguin USA, and is the American title for No Further Questions. The Evidence Against You is her next novel, out April 2019 in the UK.
Today I have my review for The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden. I read this book via NetGalley and my thanks to Michael Joseph Books for accepting my request.
In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others. This is their story.
When Cyrus, brother to the Great King of Persia, attempts to overthrow his reckless sibling, he employs a Greek mercenary army of 10,000 soldiers. When this army becomes stranded as a result of the unexpected death of Cyrus, and then witnesses the treacherous murder of its entire officer corps, despair overtakes them.
One man, Xenophon, rallies the Greeks. As he attempts to lead them to freedom across 1,500 miles of hostile territory seething with adversaries, 10,000 men set off on the long way home.
I have read a few books by this author and I think this may be my favourite one…so far…
Spartans, Greeks, Persians, battles, and power struggles… it has the lot, and more. I know the basics of this period in history, around 400BC and going into this book I knew I would come away knowing a little more.
This author does such a wonderful job with bringing history alive with his words. The vivid imagery is easily conjured up from the pages as raging battles, strategy and formations are mixed with harsh marching conditions through deserts, mountains, and plains. Entwined within these is a story of family and power. The mix of historical fact is balanced so that all the information is given in an easily digestible way without being swamped.
The story starts with the wishes of the King, he effectively pits one brother against another upon his death. At the King’s death, Cyrus is only just able to avoid his own death and so forms an army to overthrow his older brother, the new King. Things do not go according to plan, outwitted and outmaneuvered the army is in disarray. A horse-master steps forward with suggestions that make sense and so he leads them on a perilous march.
This is a good sized read at 448 pages and within the few, I knew I was in for a treat as I was enjoying it so much. The flow if fabulous as I got taken into a world of intrigue, scheming and conniving to reach the ultimate goal…Power.
There is not a massive cast list, even though there are 1,000’s involved. It is the main players that are used and they soon became recognisable and familiar as the story was told.
The first part of the book is about control and power, the second is about the army trying to escape and return home. The sheer number of people involved is staggering, an army of thousands and the followers’ number just as much again. The logistics of feeding, moving, clothing this amount beggers belief. A march of 10,000… I just cannot express how mindblowing this is in my mind.
Journeying through rough terrain for hundreds of miles on foot, with little food, being attacked and chased is not for the weak. Choosing life and freedom over death features prominently. It definitely piqued my interest as further reading on the internet followed after finishing reading this book.
If you like Historical Fiction set early in history, that includes epic feats, that combines fact and fiction, then you really should read this one. It is detailed and very readable, with a brilliant flow to it. There is an interesting read in the Authors’ notes at the end, well worth a peruse. It is one I would definitely recommend.
About the Author:
I was born in the normal way in 1971, and vaguely remember half-pennies and sixpences. I have written for as long as I can remember: poetry, short stories and novels. It’s what I always wanted to do and read English at London University with writing in mind. I taught English for seven years and was Head of English at St. Gregory’s RC High School in London by the end of that period. I have enormous respect for those who still labour at the chalk-face. In truth, I can’t find it in me to miss the grind of paperwork and initiatives. I do miss the camaraderie of the smokers’ room, as well as the lessons where their faces lit up as they understood what I was wittering on about.
My mother is Irish and from an early age she told me history as an exciting series of stories – with dates. My great-grandfather was a Seannachie, so I suppose story-telling is in the genes somewhere. My father flew in Bomber Command in WWII, then taught maths and science. Perhaps crucially, he also loved poetry and cracking good tales. Though it seems a dated idea now, I began teaching when boys were told only girls were good at English, despite the great names that must spring to mind after that statement. My father loved working with wood and equations, but he also recited ‘Vitai Lampada’ with a gleam in his eye and that matters, frankly.
I’ve always loved historical fiction as a genre and cut my teeth on Hornblower and Tai-Pan, Flashman, Sharpe and Jack Aubrey. I still remember the sheer joy of reading my first Patrick O’Brian book and discovering there were nineteen more in the series. I love just about anything by David Gemmell, or Peter F. Hamilton or Wilbur Smith. I suppose the one thing that links all those is the love of a good tale.
That’s about it for the moment. If you’d like to get in touch with me leave a comment in the forum or you can tweet me @Conn_Iggulden. I’ll leave it there for the moment. If you’ve read my books, you know an awful lot about the way I think already. There’s no point overdoing it.
Today I have my thoughts on Shiang by C.F.Iggulden that is published today, the second in The Empire of Salt Series. I would like to thank Michael Joseph Books for my ecopy recieved via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own. You can purchase a copy of this book from good book shops and here is the link to purchase from AMAZON UK.
IF THESE STONES COULD SPEAK . . . THEY WOULD CALL FOR WAR.
In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat.
Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood – and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.
Far to the west, four Shiang masters approach the city walls of Darien. The sword saint and his companions have crossed a continent to bring an old man home for punishment. They will not be denied, even if the whole city stands in their way.
TWO ANCIENT CITIES. ONE FINAL WAR.
So this is the second in this series of books by Conn Iggulden. Shiang and Darien are ancient cities separated by many miles of rough, mountainous landscapes. So why anyone would want to make the journey across the mountains, especially in winter, must be for something important.
There are two groups making this journey, Hondo and his group are journeying to bring back a traitor, a man who disgraced the royal family in Darien, he now resides in Shiang. The other group is led by Gabriel and they are a more fearsome band, they are drawn to Shiang seeking power.
This is very much an action and well paced story, there are descriptions and histories that are filled in as the story unfolds. The journeys made by the two groups are interesting and the reasons for the trek was one that intrigued me.
This book gave me a chance to learn more about the ruling families and also how they rule. Also the way they use the power they posses.
Even though I did enjoy this story I found I was at a bit of a loss to find the links I would have expected between the first and second book. It did confuse me as I didn’t seem to have any memory of any of the key characters, once I kind of shrugged that off and decided to read it in the mindset of being more of a stand alone novel then I could enjoy the story. It was quite a long way in before I came across a character I could remember from the first book, he only makes a fleeting appearance.
So this book leaves me in a bit of a quandary, as part of a series I kind of expect characters to come back to me in the few chapters at least, but this wasn’t the case, this essentially left it as a book that had more of a stand alone feel.
I did enjoy the story and found it descriptive, it is full of action, a fair bit of blood, death and destruction, it also has magic, swordsmanship, warriors and honour. It is a book that I would recommend and I am still looking forward to the next in the series.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be great 🙂 xx
I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Lost Letters Of William Woolfe by Helen Cullen with you today. This book came on holiday with me and joined me sat beside the River Teign in Devon. My thanks to Michael Joseph Publishing for my copy of the book. If you would like to buy a copy it comes in various formats and can be found on AMAZON
Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.
When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?
William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.
William and Clare Woolfe met at university and got married. They settle into marriage and also working life and over time the dreams they had at university gradually diminish. Life and work becomes a routine.
This story is told from the perspective of both Clare and William and I got to learn more about them as individuals as well as a couple. Clare has a successful career in law, though her original love is of art. William works in the Lost Letters Dept of the Post Office, just a temporary job until he became an author, this job now seems rather permanent.
William’s job entails him finding the recipients of those letters that have been wrongly addressed, address is missing or damaged. One day he finds a distinctive envelope and letter and is very taken with it, wanting to more about it and its author.
As his investigations with the letter progress I found another story, that of William and Clare. They are caught in that rut of routine in their marriage. They are a normal couple living normal lives but that have just lost that bit of sparkle.
So essentially you are given two stories, that of the letter and that of the marriage. This is where I may be right off the mark but, I think it’s like a comparison of what the perfect relationship in a letter is against actual relationships. The letter, or I should say letters as there are several, are beautiful in their sentiments and wording. They talk of dreams and plans for the future and for happiness and love. William and Clare have lost their youthful and exciting dreams, and though they still love each other they are frayed and fraught.
Life and the way you see it can sometimes narrow into a tunnel, it doesn’t allow you to see the bigger picture. At times we need to step out of our comfort zone of routine, rotas and timetables and experience new things, visit new places and above all dream. The letters allow William to do that.
So this is a book that is almost an enigma from the synopsis. I thought I would be reading about the letters that had gone astray, and while they do play a part in the story it is not all the story is. Once I realised what was happening I was able to enjoy the story of William and Clare and their lives as individuals and as a couple.
It is a gentle paced story that is quiet and thoughtful, not quite what I expected given the synopsis but non the less I thoroughly enjoyed. A book that I would recommend to readers of contemporary and literary fiction and is a beautiful story that I would definitely recommend.
About he Author:
Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.
The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.
‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published this year, 2018 in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and Israel.
Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.
I am delighted to be able to share my thoughts on “The Marriage Pact” by Michelle Richmond. It is available in Hardback and eBook format now, Paperback is due for release on 14th December 2017, published by Penguin Books. I was originally sent an invite to read this from Michael Joseph Books via NetGalley, my views expressed are my own and are unbiased.
Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift – membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.
Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.
Until one of them breaks the rules.
The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
Because The Pact is for life.
And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .
‘A brilliant premise . . . tautly plotted and deftly written’ J P Delaney
‘Beware. This will keep you up all night’ Lisa Gardner
‘You won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough’ Paula Daly
When I received the invite to read this book, It was a very quick response that yes I really wanted to read this. I was not disappointed, from the outset I was hooked. The story is told from the perspective of Jake as he relates his experiences of his relationship and then through his marriage to Alice. But one of their wedding gifts is an unusual one, entry into a group that promotes marriage. The Pact is a group that helps to guide and support their members to achieve and maintain a successful marriage. At first it seems okay, little things such as giving your partner a gift each month, making time for your partner, answering calls straight away, attending meetings, having regular holidays together. It all sounded great and doable, until that is, you miss one of the rules. Yes all these guidelines of things to do are rules, and if you break a rule there are consequences.
Oh my goodness, this is a book that makes you think. It is quite scary how, as you read, you find yourself agreeing with some of the ideology behind The Pact, spending time with your partner in this fast paced world we live in is a definite must. At this point you can see how Jake and Alice saw no problem being part of the group. Then as the story deepens you see another side to the group. I am not going to say any more on this, I just ask that you go and buy yourself a copy of this wonderful book to find out more.
What I expected from this book and what I experienced are two completely different things. There is a sense of foreboding with the synopsis, but I did not expect what I read. It is psychologically deeply twisted and sinister and also very believable. It is that believe-ability of the plot that is the real hook for this book, in my opinion. As you meet other characters your opinions will change about them, as you realise you don’t know who you can trust to tell the truth. They refer to each other as “Friend” rather than by name, keeping things slightly impersonal, a great touch to raise the suspicion level. It has a fast pace that adds to the thrill, i did find a drop on a couple of occasions, but not enough to take anything away from it
So, if you like to read very suspense filled, sinister, psychological, deeply twisted and believable read then get a copy of this book. It is one I really recommend reading. My thanks to Michael Joseph and NetGalley for my copy of this book, my thoughts are my own and are unbiased.
About the Author:
Michelle Richmond is the author of the novels THE MARRIAGE PACT, THE YEAR OF FOG, NO ONE YOU KNOW, GOLDEN STATE, DREAM OF THE BLUE ROOM, and the story collections HUM and THE GIRL IN THE FALL-AWAY DRESS.
“Michelle Richmond has established herself as mistress of the kind of literary mystery which packs the punch of a fine thriller but with added insight and wisdom….” Sarah Broadhurst for The Daily Mail (The Year of Fog)
Michelle’s novels are primarily set in San Francisco, California. She grew up in Alabama and lives in Northern California with her husband and son.